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Thousands of New York properties earmarked for homeless people remain vacant

NewsThousands of New York properties earmarked for homeless people remain vacant

Apartments designed to house homeless New Yorkers are reportedly sitting vacant. An investigation revealed the homes are sitting empty despite record levels of homelessness.

The Freedom of Information Law request showed that 2,646 of the city’s supportive housing units were currently unfilled as of March 31. These homes are designed for individuals with a need for social services.

On Friday (May 26), Human Resources Administration, which runs a supported housing scheme, confirmed 464 had been filled since March 31. That, however, means 2,182 stood empty.

Human Resources Administration suggested the number of vacancies could in fact be higher, reported the New York Daily News. This is because more homes are added onto the system on a rolling basis.

Read more: Ex-employee blows whistle on conditions inside NYC hotel now housing migrants

Spokesman Nicholas Jacobelli said: “Over 3,200 new supportive housing units have been brought online since January 2022 and the rate of New Yorkers placed in supportive housing has increased nearly 40% year over year.”

He was referring to data that showed around 3,300 New Yorkers were placed in supportive housing between March 2022 and February of this year. 

Campaigners however say the supportive housing levels in the city have remained relatively flat. Craig Hughes from Mobilization for Justice said his organisation believed there were 2,600 empty units in November.

The city says there are currently 31,000 supportive housing units across the five boroughs. These offer a range of services including mental health support and drug rehabilitation on site.

New York Mayor Eric Adams has, in recent weeks, been raising concerns about the local shelter and emergency housing system. He said they have reached “breaking point”.

He has even considered housing people in the shuttered Rikers Island jail or using the north of the city. The Lincolnshire Correctional Facility – a closed prison in Harlem – is already being earmarked for homeless migrants.

However, the Adams administration is reportedly hoping to scrap the city’s right-to-shelter law. Dating back to 1981, it requires the city to provide a bed in a shelter with certain baseline living conditions to anyone who needs it.

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